Exploring Olinda, fly back to Sao Paolo
1 March: After breakfast we set off to explore Olinda, which is actually just about 300 metres in each direction. There are beautiful colonial houses and nice churches, but the best part was the view over Recife from the Alto da Sñ (cathedral heights). Somehow we had seen enough colonial architecture in the last few days to be not too impressed with Olinda. All churches except one were closed, they open afternoons. My camera suddenly died on this day without much of a fuss, it suddenly just went black and no amount of battery changing and switch jiggling could breathe any life into it.
Near midday we went back to our room, had a shower and packed our bags. The owner got us a taxi and we headed in the direction of the airport. We were several hours early, but we could check in anyway, bless the flexible Brazilians. We took a taxi to Boa Viagem, the great beach area of Recife, which is not too far from the airport. We told the driver to let us off at Polo Pina, a shopping area in the north of Boa Viagem.
The restaurant's owner where we decided to have lunch was a very friendly and talkative fellow and he recommended something to us which we didn't understand. We dragged us right to his kitchen to show us a frozen plastic bag of frozen Argentinean Steak. A 500g Steak would cost us all of about 18 R$ for the tow of us with rice, chips, vegetables etc. That was a exceptionally good deal, but we weren't feeling like eating THAT much meat, so we opted for the mini portion of just 300g for the both of us. The meat and food was exceptionally good, all for about 11 R$! The place is called Picanha do Panñas, Retisco Restaurante.
After lunch we went for a long walk along the beach of Boa Viagem, it is a very wide beach, gently sloping into the sea. On the other end of the beach is a road lined with rather high buildings. I wasn't yet feeling fit to go into the water, but it really looked like a marvelous beach.
Near 3 in the afternoon we took a taxi back to the airport. We landed in Sño Paulo in the evening. The aircraft taking us to Milan was to be a MD-11 once again, and about 11 in the night we boarded. It was strangely silent inside the aircraft when we entered. There was an announcement after a while that there was still some problem on the plane which was being looked at and after 2 hours we were told to exit back to the airport. We hung around in the lounge till about 4 in the night (suddenly a big heap of McDonalds Big Mac meals appeared and we could help ourselves) we were told that we could take taxis to a hotel!
At the Hotel Merkur the reception area was
a complete chaos as the personnel was in no way sufficient or efficient
enough to handle such a large number of people. Moreover, the passengers
were mostly unruly, brash Italians, in marked contrast to the rather gentle
and even disciplined Brazilians. We were really tired by now and it did help
a bit to elbow slightly to get our room. We got a lot of bad marks in loud
Italian from our nearby fellow passengers for doing so. Our room was nice